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Fashion Catalogues

Money was scarce in our household this June due to a streak of bad luck with the cattle plus lightning rods had been ordered for the barn.

Since a new dress appeared to be out of the budget, Gram suggested cutting down one of Aunt Ethel’s outdated outfits to make me a jumper for the school closing. She also had bleached some flour bags and would use them to make a short sleeved waist. Aunt Sadie offered to do some trimming with embroidery work.

When Gram went to the room over the kitchen, I was right behind her. I expected her to search through the “old” clothes to find some suitable material. But instead she went to her sewing trunk and started rummaging through patterns and pamphlets.

As soon as she spotted the Men’s and Boys’s Attire catalogue for the Spring and Summer of 1916, from Scovil Bros. Limited at Oak Hall in Saint John, she sat down and looked at each page and commenced to tell me about ordering for Dad, the navy blue suit made from all wool English twill serge. It had two pairs of trousers and cost twelve dollars. I just could not imagine 12-year-old boys wearing those bloomer pants. 

The catalogue also showed some outfits for girls and women. On page 58, Gram had circled #6399 for Aunt Sadie - which was a two-piece middy dress that was described as being trimmed with turkey red piping and silk middy laces in the front. The cost was a dollar fifty.

For the twins, she had marked # 6418 - a one piece pique dress with scalloped collar, cuffs and bottom of embroidery flower center with a price of seventy-nine cents.

If you ever wondered about the clothes worn by your grandparents or tried to date a photograph by the clothing, an excellent place to start would be with the Scovil Bros. Catalogues from 1905 to 1922 which can be found in the Archives & Research Library of the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.

Throughout the libraries in New Brunswick, you will find catalogues from T. Eaton Company and Sears - Roebuck dating back to 1897.

At the Kennebecasis, Saint John Main and Saint John West branches of the Library there are copies of collections of photocopied newspaper articles titled "Fashion in Saint John, N.B.”, from 1783 to 1945.
The Legislative Library in Fredericton has “A shopper's view of Canada's past - pages from Eaton's catalogues, 1886-1930".

The next time you are puzzling over the time frame for a photo, look carefully at the clothing as those shirts, trousers, dresses, hats and shoes could provide the key. Furthermore doing research on the fashions of yesteryear may help you add some interesting and descriptive details to the pictures in your possession.

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Query 1482
Boyd: Interested in finding an arrival date in New Brunswick and other information for Major Boyd who was born in 1813 in Ireland, died 17 Oct 1897 at Gagetown, New Brunswick  His wife's name was Rebecca.
P.O. Box 771,
Terrace Bay, ON
Canada, P0T 2W0

Query 1484
Tribe - Stableford - Hicks: James S. Tribe (1803-1891) came to New Brunswick in 1820. He bought property at Ward's Creek in 1839. His first wife was Deborah Stableford and his second wife was Annie Hicks. He is buried at Kirk Hill Cemetery, Sussex. I am trying to find his obituary and any other information.
624 Cowan Street
Kamloops, BC
Canada, V2C 3G4.

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Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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